Anyone who’s hung around our Instagram for any length of time will know we LOVE our retro games and have done since before they were retro. Last year we went to an amazing retro games festival called Revival: The Rivals run by Revival Retro Events.
Revival Retro Events are a group of retro gamers and hobbyists who come together to let us play on all their old retro consoles, arcade machines and pinball machines and they do a fantastic job of running an amazing event. The event also has stalls, competitions and a bar serving alcohol!
This year they are running an even bigger convention! This time it’s called Revival: Generation X and we’re going to be going to it THIS WEEKEND! I’m really excited as you can probably tell. Last year I went with my gaming compatriot Optimus Funk aka Marc. This year he’s coming again except this time we’re also bringing our other gaming buddy RADxUK and my eldest son Marshall! BOYS ROAD TRIP!
This year Revival is going to be even bigger, with areas dedicated to different decades of gaming history. I can barely wait. If you want to see what last year’s event had on show check out our gallery post and our video (it has our old ‘sports direct’ style branding).
Anyway, in celebration of all things retrogamery, I wanted to list down my top ten all time favourite retro videogames and witter on about why I love them so much. It’s not in any particular order, I love them all equally.
Super Mario Bros 3 – Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
It’s by no means the deepest Mario game or the most technically exciting. Those accolades likely go to Super Mario World or Super Mario 64. For me though, SMB3 was the one mario game that totally absorbed me when I was in my formative years. Compared to the other games I had the choice of playing (Bart Vs the Space Mutants or Adventure Island) it totally blew them out of the water (Adventure Island is actually pretty solid). I always think fondly of the time I spent sat on the living room floor playing this game on the big wooden telly.
It’s one of few games where every element is somehow burned into the back of my brain in some way. The music, the enemies, the levels are all still packed away back there. That quality alone makes it one of my all time favourites.
James Pond 3: Operation Starfish – Sega Megadrive/Genesis
Unlike a lot of people, I wasn’t really much of a fan of this game’s predecessor; Robocod (I would play the hell out of Aquatic Games though). This was the first James Pond title that really grabbed me and for the first time it felt like the Megadrive had a platformer with real depth. The levels were complex enough that finding a secret block or path could lead you out into a whole new section of the map. There were things to collect and a wide variety of cheese-based levels to keep things interesting.
Sadly, this was where the franchise ended. there was never a James Pond 4 (there was a Kickstarter for it but it died) so this, for me at least, stands as testament to the best that JP could be.
Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2: Rogue Leader – Nintendo Gamecube
There have always been a lot of Star Wars tie-in games. Some were pants, some (like SWKotOR) were amazing. Rogue Leader represents a point where the graphics and gameplay really met up to a point where you could get the most exciting Star Wars experience. Battlefront would come along a few years later and do a decent job of showcasing ground combat but if you wanted to fly an X-Wing you wanted to be playing this.
The first Rogue Squadron game was on the N64 and as much as I liked it, the graphical overhaul that came with Rogue Squadron 2 just made it the definitive Star Wars space shooter.
Sonic Adventure 2 – Sega Dreamcast
As the first Sonic outing in three dimensions (no I’m not counting that migraine-inducing isometric nonsense in Sonic 3D Blast) Sonic Adventure really helped to expand the known sonic universe beyond the simple levels we’d seen so far. It showed us cities, temples and that grassy mountain place where Tails lives. It also gave us the chance to breed tiny little creatures called Chaos. This was groundbreaking because, thanks to the Visual Memory Units you could take them with you outside the game. This is at a point where the Tamagotchi was hugely popular.
Sonic Adventure 2 took everything about Sonic Adventure and just rammed everything up to eleven. It had new characters, better graphics and all the concepts in the first game had been expanded upon. I’ve actually got the Steam port of this game and even without the VMU this keeps calling me back again and again.
Radar Mission – Nintendo Gameboy
To the world at large this game was nothing special. It’s not a Tetris or a Super Mario Land. For me though, this game got me through some long car trips. The game actually had two different and distinct modes. One was little more than a digital version of Battleship, where you had to guess where an enemies ships were and destroy them. The other was a strange sideways game of cat and mouse where you had to shoot torpedoes at the enemy whilst avoiding damage yourself.
Both were totally gripping to me. Also, when you take into consideration the simplicity of the console, the music and sound effects really made you feel like you were in command of a submarine. I can’t wait to track this down and get it back in my collection.
Crueball – Sega Megadrive/Genesis
I had a weird addiction to pinball games as a youth. I had little to no access to the real thing but on consoles I was a pro. When I was at home I liked Sonic Spinball and when I went out it would be Kirby’s Pinball on the Gameboy Color. But for weird, heavy-metal nonsense pinball no-one else could (or tried to) hold a torch to Crueball.
If you tried to pitch it today people would laugh at you but back then it made total sense to have a pinball game based around the music and visual style of Motley Crue. Because why not? Nowadays that would be the equivalent of a golf game starring Ed Sheeran or Black Eyed Peas Racing.
Eternal Darkness – Nintendo Gamecube
The gamecube was no stranger to survival horror and adventure games like this but Eternal Darkness really stood apart for a few really good reasons. The first was that it was laced through with an amazing amount of H. P. Lovecraft’s lore and style. The whole thing was a historical tale underpinned by eldritch monsters and looming elder gods. The best thing about it was that your character had a sanity level and when your character lost sanity some really weird stuff started to happen.
If your character had a minor loss of sanity then some bemusing things may occur. Your character may suddenly start sinking into the floor. Their head may roll off their body. Odd things like that. But lose a lot of sanity and the real fun began. The game wouldn’t do things to your character, it would do things TO YOU. It would pretend you’d erased your save game. It would return you to the title screen. It would pretend the game had finished. It would control itself. It would tell you a controller had become unplugged. It would ACTUALLY MESS WITH YOU.
I’ve not encountered a game since that so directly and ingeniously victimised the player but it was brilliant.
Skitchin – Sega Megadrive/Genesis
Skitchin! In direct contravention of all good sense about personal safety (grown-ups weren’t too fussed about videogames back then), Skitchin’ glamourises the famous kids’ pastime of hanging off the back of moving cars and swiping at each other with nunchuks and iron bars. It was a somehow logical extension of the Road Rash series of games and came with similarly rebellious music and humorously named opponents.
Born from the portmanteau of ‘skating’ and ‘hitchin’, Skitchin was a race to get to the front-most car by lurching from vehicle-to-vehicle, lamping the other skitchers with blunt weapons as you go. Something about this game has always stayed with me. I love Road Rash but it didn’t scream nineties cool like Skitchin did.
Goldeneye – Nintendo 64
This is a popular choice. Everyone goes on about how good Goldeneye was. In truth, going back to itnow, the controller makes it nearly impossible to get through and you spend a lot of time shooting the floor like your nan trying to play Call of Duty. But at the time it was amazing. Not just the single player game, although that was incredible for the time, but primarily for the super-flexible local multiplayer. The game let you pick your own character and decide what weapons were on the map. This alone gave birth to hundreds of different gametypes like ‘golden gun’, the famous ‘slappers only’ and the inevitable rule ‘No-one’s allowed to be Oddjob’.
It’s worth noting that Rare would go on to release Perfect Dark which was also special in it’s own way. It was also one of the first games to require the memory expansion unit for extra sparkle.
Shadow Man – Sega Dreamcast
The Dreamcast gets a raw deal with a lot of people. The catalogue of games could have been better, the control pad was massive and it wasn’t around for that long. Nevertheless there were some great games and they weren’t all cutesy japanese platformers. Shadow Man was a spooky tomb raider style platformer where you traversed the realms of the underworld looking for justice. I remember it had something to do with your kid’s teddy bear and you were best mates with a big Irish worm.
It was mostly nonsense but really fun to play and at times particularly disturbing.